What a turbulent season it was for the Sunderland last term, culminating in a remarkable escape from relegation under the stewardship of Gus Poyet following the sacking of the exuberant Paolo Di Canio after just five games.
Despite their well documented league struggle, Poyet’s men defied all odds by miraculously avoiding the drop after defeating Manchester City and Chelsea most notably in their own back yards. Not only that but they also reached the Capital One Cup final at Wembley, ultimately falling short against a formidable Manchester City Side.
But Gus Poyet looks to have settled a once sinking ship as he prepares his troops for their 2014/15 Barclays Premier League opener away to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
The question remains, has Poyet’s side got enough fire power to steer clear of the drop this year? Connor Wickham almost single handedly saved Sunderland from relegation last season and the Black Cats will look to secure his future with them amid interest from West Ham United this Summer.
The former Ipswich star bagged crucial goals against Manchester City, Chelsea and Cardiff at the back end of last season and he’ll surely be the man to see them safe from such trouble this season.
Along with a fully fit Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore Sunderland should have enough to avoid the drop zone but it remains to be seen if Sunderland can tie down a deal to sign Fabio Borini on a permanent deal from Liverpool. Borini was equally as instrumental in helping Sunderland seal Premier League football for the coming campaign.
The Black Cats have made several signings this Summer including goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon, Jordi Gomez and Will Buckley most recently but the marquee signing thus far has to be the acquisition of Man City outcast Jack Rodwell. The midfielder hasn’t played regular football since his big money move from Everton in 2012 but he can certainly help Poyet achieve greater things this term if he fits straight in, but that may prove to be difficult due to his sever lack of first team football.
John O’Shea and Wes Brown will provide leadership and experience as they will form a solid foundation for Sunderland at the back as will new boys Patrick van Aanholt and Billy Jones.
Perhaps a mid-table finish awaits the Black Cats this season as they’ll no doubt look to improve on what was a very disappointing year last season.
Key player: Adam Johnson
One to watch out for: Will Buckley
Can Sunderland finish mid-table, or will they be facing another relegation dog-fight? Have your say in the comment section below, or on Twitter @TBRFootball.